LOS ANGELES - At one point during the third quarter Sunday, Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders and Lakers forward Anthony Davis shared a few laughs. After the game, while Davis was chatting with his former assistant coach and current Wolves staffer Kevin Hanson, Robert Covington came up behind Davis and covered his face in a towel.
The Wolves could have used that towel to block Davis’ vision on the floor.
Even the Wolves had to sit back, appreciate and laugh at what Davis did to them in a 142-125 Lakers victory.
He scored 50 points on 20 of 29 shooting as the Wolves dropped their fourth straight.
The Wolves, coming off their most devastating loss of the season Friday in Oklahoma City, are in the midst of their longest losing streak of the season. But they had the unfortunate timing of running into the buzz saw that is the 21-3 Lakers. The Wolves had no answer for Davis or LeBron James, who had 32 points and 13 assists.
“There’s a reason their record is what it is,” Saunders said. “There’s times when they just overwhelm you and we got to fail quickly. We got a game [Monday at Phoenix].”
There were some encouraging moments. The Wolves shot 52% and with James in first-half foul trouble, the Wolves rallied to take a 58-53 lead. But the Lakers closed the half on a 11-2 run. The Wolves were within seven after three quarters, but the Lakers kicked it into high gear in the fourth, outscoring the Wolves 32-22. Their 142 points were the most the Wolves have allowed this season while the Lakers’ 58.5% shooting was the highest of any Wolves opponent.
“I think it was a good measuring stick for us to see the elite teams in this league.”
Just how did they Wolves measure up?
It depends who you asked. Center Karl-Anthony Towns, who was one of eight Wolves in double figures with 19 points, was more optimistic.
“They hit a lot of tough shots, and they ran really well in the beginning,” Towns said. “I’m obviously not happy with the result, but you got to take the positives. The positive was throughout the game I, personally, on the court myself, you feel like, ‘Man, we must be down by 30,’ and we look up and we’re down by five. It’s a good sign. The system is working. We just got to play better obviously.”
Robert Covington, meanwhile, didn’t paint quite as rosy a picture.
“I mean, we got work to do,” Covington said. “Plain and simple. We got work to do.”
When asked specifically what the Wolves needed to do, Covington replied, “Period. Not much to say. You got to figure out how you can guard. They broke us down in a lot of ways, and you got to figure out the overall scheme of it.”
From the start of the game, the Wolves had trouble with the Lakers in transition — they allowed Los Angeles 17 fast-break points in the first quarter alone. The Wolves adjusted to what Covington called the Lakers “cherry picking” but by then they had established the upper hand.
“We did a poor job early on,” Saunders said. “There was one point where they made four passes and had 11 points in the game. When I say four passes, they just outletted the ball, threw it down, and that’s something we got to clean up and be better at.”
Added Jeff Teague: “They dominated us, beginning to end.”
Now there’s the task of ending this losing streak. They entered this trip with high hopes after starting 7-2 on the road, this one can’t end soon enough. There’s one more chance to salvage something from it.
“Their mood — hey, people are dejected because you don’t like to lose,” Saunders said. “But we’re going to pick ourselves back up and we’re going to compete [Monday].”